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Social media orecomm2011

  1. 1. Ørecomm Centre for Communication and Glocal Change THE EUROPEAN UNION The European Regional Development Fund THE EUROPEAN UNION The European Regional Development Fund THE EUROPEAN UNION The European Regional Development Fund Social Media in Development Cooperation Edited by Ricky Storm Braskov
  2. 2. Social Media in Development Cooperation
  3. 3. 3 Social Media in Development Cooperation Ørecomm - Centre for Communication and Glocal Change Editor: Ricky Storm Braskov © Ørecomm and the authors; Ørecomm 2012 Published by: Ørecomm at Malmö University and Roskilde University, 2012 Cover Photo: Timothy Lee La Rose Printed by: Roskilde Universitets Trykkeri, Roskilde, Denmark Photos (p.9,19,29,41,50,64,80): Ricky Storm Braskov Supported by: The European Union (Intereg IV A) & Danida (People Speaking Back? Media Empowerment and Democracy in East Africa ISBN 978-87-7349-811-8
  4. 4. 4 Ørecomm Centre for Communication and Glocal Change ØRECOMM is an international research group that originates at Malmö University (MAH) and Roskilde University (RUC) for research in the field of Communication for Development and Glocal Change. ØRECOMM focuses on the relations between media, communication, and social change processes at both global and local levels. ØRECOMM explicitly recognises and seeks to explore and understand the interconnectedness between change processes in the Øresund region - a geographical and economic region comprising Southern Sweden and Eastern Denmark, where MAH and RUC are located - and in the world at large. ØRECOMM’s main funding comes from EU’s INTERREG IV A Program. ØRECOMM program activities include research projects, lectures, seminars and publications. For more information, see: ‘People Speaking Back? Media, Empowerment and Democracy in East Africa’ (MEDIeA) is currently the largest research project hosted by ØRECOMM. It is a collaborative research programme between Roskilde University (RUC) in Denmark, the University of Nairobi in Kenya, and the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. It is funded by Danida with 5.5 mio Danish kroner, 2009-2013. MEDIeA explores the role that civil- society-driven media and communication technologies can potentially have in enhancing participatory governance processes in East Africa. Dissemination, capacity building, and policy dialogue are additional components of the programme. For further information:
  5. 5. 5 Contents Preface 6 Thomas Tufte and Oscar Hemer Social Media in Development Cooperation 9 Ricky Storm Braskov Social and Mobile Media in ICT4D 19 Paula Uimonen Social Media are Amazing - But How Big is Their 29 Impact and How Can We Trust Them? Petter Åttingsberg UNDP’s Use of Social Media 41 Stine Kirstein Junge How Can the Internet and Social Media Contribute to 50 Community Communication for Empowerment? Birgitte Jallov Social Media and Communication for Development: 64 Towards an Equity Perspective Rafael Obregon The Authors 80 Programme Ørecomm Festival 2011 84
  6. 6. 6 Preface Thomas Tufte & Oscar Hemer A little over a year ago, who would have thought so much would change in 2011? Revolutions and massive social mobilizations across the globe – from the already iconic ‘Arab Spring’ to civil unrest and strikes in Malawi, massive student protests in Chile, a Europe in profound crisis from Greece, UK and Italy to the indignados of Spain. 2011 culminated with the widespread Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in the US and the beginning mobilization around Putin’s possible reelection for president in Russia in 2012. Most recently, the unprecedented viral communication success of the video- documentary ‘Kony2102’ by the American NGO ‘Invisible Children’ has underlined some of the potentials for advocacy communication and awareness raising that social media can: although highly contested both in content and form, the fact of ‘Kony2012’ reaching 100 million hits in less than a week speaks to the clear existence and use of social media in issues of development, and it begs for a profound analysis and rethinking of the relation between development organizations, social media and ordinary citizens. The much discussed role of social media in many of the mobilizations mentioned above has indeed sparked a historical attention to communication for social change in the spheres of media and communication scholars. Which current conferences or new calls for publications are not about voice and participation, mobilization and rights, citizenship and change? Communication for social change as a terrain of practice and as a cross-disciplinary field of scholarship and research is at the verge of drowning in success! In this environment, communication for development and social change has proliferated, it is becoming increasingly institutionalized, and ØRECOMM is striving to take up the challenges, help set the agendas and explore the actual practices on the ground. ØRECOMM is active both in collaborating around the institutionalization of communication for development programs worldwide, in initiating and
  7. 7. 7 participating in new publications in the field, in having PhD-students take up a series of the emerging research challenges and lastly, in regularly hosting seminars, guest lectures and, as a new but key element: organizing the 5-day ØRECOMM festival in September 2011. This publication is an outcome from the ØRECOMM Festival 2011. Social Media and Development Cooperation The ØRECOMM festival theme was ‘Agency in the Mediatized World – Media, Communication and Development in Transition’, and with over 40 speakers from more than 20 countries, a multiplicity of voices from many stakeholders was brought into this international conversation. This specific publication brings together voices from key institutions and experts that are central in the established world of development cooperation and who were invited to Day 3 of the festival to share their experiences in using social media. You will here find representatives from UN-agencies, INGOs, bilaterals and consultants that in each their way provide their take on how social media are challenging and influencing the ways they work with development and social change. The revolutionary potential of the social media is downplayed, the many forms of use of social media uncovered, and the co-existence and interdependence between new and old media is foregrounded. It is eye-opening to see how organizational players in this field of social media, communication and social change on the one hand are being challenged by new technologies, but on the other hand also show some creativity, realistic and pragmatic judgment, and first and foremost commitment to make the best use of the new technologies to pursue the development goals and challenges they work with. The challenge in this field of development practice is to avoid technological determinism, and rather to explore the strategic possibilities for social media to help push forward the ambitious agendas of international development cooperation. What is not so much addressed in this publication but which will be at the centre of the Ørecomm Festival 2012 which will take place on 14-17 September, is the
  8. 8. 8 ways and means whereby activists and social movements make use of media and communication in their struggles for social change. The relation between mass self-communication as seen amongst bloggers and tweeters in for example the Arab spring, and the more formal and established institutions of society constitutes an emerging challenge on the development agenda. The next Ørecomm Festival will unfold under the theme of ‘Reclaiming the Public Sphere – communication, power and social change’, putting the spotlight on critically reflecting upon how activists and social movements engage in and with the transforming public sphere. However, for now, enjoy the reading of these contributions to the debate about social media in development cooperation. Cordially, Oscar Hemer and Thomas Tufte Co-directors of Ørecomm
  9. 9. 9 Social Media in Development Cooperation Ricky Storm Braskov, Roskilde University
  10. 10. 10 In our increasingly digital geopolitical environment, social and mobile media have been an all-pervasive subject, spreading fast from the daily use of millions of people all over the world through to newsrooms, media reports and academic study. This has also made itself felt in development cooperation and during the Ørecomm Festival 2011 social media was the theme for a full day where practitioners from various organisations presented their work experiences and thoughts on the interplay between social media and development cooperation. This publication is an outcome of the Ørecomm Festival 2011 and presents Paula Uimonen (The Swedish Program for ICT in Developing Regions), Petter Åttingsberg (International Media Support) Stine Kirstein Junge (United Nations Development Programme), Birgitte Jallov (independent consultant), and Rafael Obregon (United Nations Children’s Fund) and their experiences and reflections on social media in development cooperation. The publication addresses social media in relation to various subjects such as external communication, community radio, the Arab Spring, youth and equity, the credibility of social media, as well as new and innovative ways of using social media in development cooperation. Paula Uimonen sets the scene with her opening article; Social and Mobile Media in ICT4D, which presents and discuss the role and potential of social and mobile media as a vehicle for development drawing insights from Spider-supported projects that aim to use blogs and mobile phones in the fight against corruption in Africa. Next, Petter Åttingsberg presents a journalists point of view on social media in development cooperation. With point of departure in the Arab Spring Petter Åttingsberg examine the challenges users are exposed to if they use social media as their primary source of information and addresses how IMS is working with this new flow of information and type of citizen journalism found in social media. Stine Kirstein Junge discuss the use of social media by UNDP in external communication. As one of the key development players UNDP has, like most other agencies, applied social media in their external communication and Stine Kirstein Junge’s article presents how social media is incorporated into the work of Social Media in Development Cooperation Introduction Ricky Storm Braskov
  11. 11. 11 a major development agency. Birgitte Jallov, senior development and communication consultant, who for the past 20 years have worked extensively on and with community radio in developing countries, presents her insights on the interaction between social media and community radio and addresses how poverty stricken communities most effectively can achieve social change and empowerment. Finally, Rafael Obregon discusses the role of social media in communication for development focusing on youth and equity. Evidently it is difficult to predict the future role and potential of social and mobile media in development cooperation, but with this publication we aim to shed some light on what is currently happening and each of the authors forward their take on the possibilities for such an agenda, contributing a variety of perspectives on the subject that we trust will contribute to the current debate. A new social paradigm Across the world governments, agencies and NGOs have embraced and applied new media into projects and programmes, and so have ordinary citizens and journalists during the Arab Spring to an extent, which have caused many to label the recent uprisings as Twitter and Facebook revolutions. Following the events in North Africa and the Middle East the Internet and especially the role and potential of mobile and social media has gained widespread media attention and resources and funds are increasingly being channelled into new policy frameworks, focusing on the emancipatory role of the Internet and new media. In 2010 US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called out for a global commitment to Internet freedom (Clinton 2010) and similarly the Swedish government have been keen advocates for the use and potential of the Internet in relation to social movements and international aid, declaring that Internet freedom will be one of the most important political issues in the years to come (Christensen 2011). Also in development cooperation more and more development organisations are discovering the power of social media to affect change. They network, find supporters, fundraise, inform and lobby online - and some of them have grown exponentially because of it. As Stine Junge’s article on UNDP’s use of social media in external communication illustrate, it is now expected of development agencies to engage with civil society in a much more proactive and engaging way
  12. 12. 12 than before. Almost all major NGOs and development agencies now have social media policies and are active on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Tumblr and other platforms, which offer them an opportunity to engage their supporters and carry messages to larger audiences without the filter of conventional media. However, utilising social media also present new communicative challenges and since these tools are new to many agencies and organisations their adaptation is often not seamless. When utilising social media in external communication agencies are first and foremost expected to be social and open up for the involvement of ordinary citizens. By doing so they will have to be willing to loose some control of the communication and content they are distributing when people from all over the world have the opportunity to respond and scrutinise the messages. For large multilateral organisations like United Nations agencies this poses challenges, since their constituents come from diverse backgrounds and cultures and often have conflicting values and opinions. However, also for smaller organisations it is not as simple as just opening up a Facebook or Twitter account and post occasional updates. In a recent study by Natalie Fenton and Veronica Barassi on the implications of using social media by NGOs they found in their case study of a British organisation, that far from being empowering, the logic of self-centred participation promoted by social media could represent a threat to organisations rather than an opportunity, since the production of messages change from collective rituals to social networking practices that are linked to processes of individuation and autonomy (Fenton & Barassi 2010). Hence, it is not without risk that organisations are embracing social media and they have to be well aware that using these new platforms require different skill-sets and might alter the communicative nature of the organisation. However, social media is much more than just a tool for external communication and as the articles in this publication show, social media is now increasingly integrated into actual projects and in the work with partner organisations. Citizen Journalism But it is not only development organisations that are utilising social media to affect change. Journalists are increasingly using social media and the broadcasting network Al-Jazeera is a good example of how the use of social media is currently
  13. 13. 13 changing and evolving. Up until now most broadcasting networks have used social media as a way to project their views to the world and to gain audience. Al-Jazeera on the other hand tends to use social media to bring information in. This has prompted them to conduct workshops for reporters and citizens on how to construct stories and use social media in countries where they are not able to report from the ground, e.g. during the uprising in Tunisia. These stories then make their way to Al-Jazeera and are broadcast to the countries they originate from and the rest of the world. This way participatory media, a mediator, and a broadcaster made it possible for Tunisians to see what was actually happening in their own country during the revolution when most media was filtered and biased towards the state.1 Hence, broadcast media and citizen journalism are merging in new ways, which is also a topic that Petter Åttingsberg investigates in his article on the credibility of using social media as a primary source of information. Likewise, Birgitte Jallov studies how the radio is now merging and interacting with social and mobile media in ways that are complementing each other. However, with all the current enthusiasm about social media and its role in social change processes, there are progressively more scholars and practitioners questioning the power of social media to affect change. Liberation vs. Repression Although there has been a recent surge in academic and popular discourse and debate on social media, these tools are still new and empirical work on the subject has previously been hard to come by. This is changing rapidly, however up until now much of the debate on the topic has been driven by ideology and anecdotal evidence, which has led to a fragmented and polarised debate in some circles, whether social media is a force for liberation or repression. From the sceptics we have heard that social media do not help bring about democracy and in fact, in the hands of the wrong people, leads to more propaganda, surveillance and censorship (Morazov 2011). In addition to arguments that social media do not have the potential to bring about change and is a form of organising which favours weak-tie connections that give us access to information over strong-tie connections that helps us persevere in the face of danger (Gladwell 2011). Many 1 YouTube video by Ethan Zuckerman, Director of the MIT Center for Civic Media. Accessed at: http:// Date accessed: 16.02.2011
  14. 14. 14 others argue that the recent events in the Arab world have led to techno- utopianism in the West - an almost blind belief in the liberating force of social and mobile media. Obviously, as Paula Uimonen notes in her article, facebook, twitter and mobile phones alone are hardly going to change the world. Technology in itself cannot do that – people do that. New technology is also neither a force for good or bad by itself and can be used by anyone regardless of their political or social agenda. Recently the Somali Islamist insurgent group, Al-Shabaab, have embraced social media by opening a Twitter account2, which gained more than seven thousand followers in less than a month. In spite of their previous rejection of all things Western, they are now tweeting directly with the Kenyan military mocking their efforts and posting propaganda on a daily basis. As many have pointed out social media have also been used by the Iranian authorities to monitor and arrest insurgents and might have played a smaller part in the Iranian Green Revolution than it has previously been given credit for (Christensen 2011(1)) Furthermore, access points such as Internet cafes are increasingly becoming a favourite regulatory target for authoritarian governments. In Belarus for example, Internet service providers and Internet cafes are required by law to keep lists of all users and turn them over to state security services. (Deibert & Rohozinski 2010:11). Governments, even the ones that are praising the democratising effect of the Internet are also increasingly working on regulatory bills and new ways to monitor and control the Internet (Morazov 2011). Recently both the US and the EU have pushed for increased legislation and surveillance of the Internet through bills such as SOPA, PIPA, and ACTA3. These bills aim to stop copyright infringement committed by foreign websites however, they do so in a way that would infringe free expression and possibly harm the free Internet. Bills like these would negatively affect anyone who writes or distributes Virtual Private Network, proxy, privacy or anonymization software, which are the very same tools that have been used by activists to circumvent authoritarian Internet regulations in China and during the Middle East and North African uprisings. And it is not only governments that are working on ways to monitor the Internet. Currently US firms are creating software for data mining systems able to!/HSMPress 3Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), Protect IP Act (PIPA), Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)
  15. 15. 15 scan social media for potential aggression, and since more and more on-line communication is moving unto mobile phones it will be much easier to monitor activity, as they are connected to towers that are easily traceable (Morazov 2010). With these constraints in mind however, social and mobile media is making a difference and its rapid proliferation has great potential, especially in the developing world where there is very little media to begin with. But what exactly is the nature of that difference? Social and mobile media might not be revolutionary in the sense that they, by themselves, will overthrow repressive regimes and emancipate oppressed people, but as Paula Uimonen notes in her article, social media are revolutionary in the sense that they facilitate, even fortify, a culture of networking. From the perspective of developing countries where communication and media are sparse and often non-existent, social and mobile media do have a massive potential in connecting people both within and to the outside world. It is a qualitative change and as Yochai Benkler has pointed out, in a complex modern society, where things that matter can happen anywhere and at any time, the capacities of people armed with the means of recording, rendering, and communicating their observations change people’s relationship to the events that surround them (Yochai Benkler 2010:10). This was obvious during the Arab Spring, but is also true in less dramatic settings in the developing world where farmers, local businesses, and NGO’s increasingly make use of social and mobile media in new and innovative ways. Developing countries embracing new media During the Arab Spring we have seen ordinary citizens armed with mobile phones, Facebook and Twitter accounts organise and overthrow decade long regimes. But social media are also being utilised in developing countries in less spectacular settings and in many different and pioneering ways. As Birgitte Jallovs study of community radio illustrate the radio has been a powerful tool for development, especially in African countries, where it has often also been one of very few communicative media. However, this is rapidly changing with the introduction of the mobile phone, which is changing the mediascape immensely. This is a topic discussed by most of the authors in this publication and many others have hailed mobile technology as a second ICT4D revolution. Although
  16. 16. 16 this might be an exaggeration the rapid proliferation of mobile phones in the developing world does have a profound impact. The mobile phone is the most accessible and affordable ICT for most people in the developing world and acquiring a mobile phone has been a quantum leap for many Africans who have never had a chance of owning a landline. Access to mobile phones in Africa has now risen from one in fifty persons at the beginning of the 21st century, to almost one in three just a few years later in 2008 (De Bruijn 2008:3). Internet penetration on the continent is still low compared to the rest of the world and it is estimated that 11.5 percent of the African population have Internet access compared to a world average of 30.2 percent4. However, with the introduction of smart phones this is likely to change and it is estimated that smart phone penetration will likely reach eighty percent in South Africa in 2014 (Rao 2011:20). The increase in mobile phones has not only helped increase interpersonal communication but has also brought about new and creative applications and projects. Up until now many software developers have not had their eyes on the African market, but increasingly local developers are creating software and applications adapted to specific African contexts. Local solutions A recent example of a mobile application developed for a specific African context is the Kenyan iCow5 mobile application, which won the 2010 U.S. Department of State sponsored Apps for Africa competition. iCow is an SMS and voice-based mobile phone application made for small-scale dairy farmers that helps farmers track the oestrus stages of their cows while giving them valuable tips on cow breeding, animal nutrition, milk production efficiency and gestation. Across the continent there are many similar applications being developed for farmers where they e.g. receive daily updates on market prices for their crops, which helps them to sell their crops on favourable days. It was also the mobile phone that helped bring about one of Africa’s most innovative applications, Ushahidi (Swahili for testimonial). Ushahidi was developed as the chaos and violence unfolded in Kenya following the 2007 disputed election when it was extremely difficult to obtain accurate information about incidents of violence due to media bias and 4Internet World Stats. Accessed at: Date Accessed: 25.01.2012 5
  17. 17. 17 harassment of journalists. Much of the violence was organised through vernacular radio stations and through text messages where recipients were urged to inform on other tribes and incited to violence, which were then forwarded and spread rapidly throughout the country. Witnessing this the Kenyan lawyer and blogger Ory Okolloh posted online the idea of an Internet mapping tool, allowing citizens to report violence and election fraud. The call was picked up by David Kobia and Erik Hersman, two technologists from Kenya, who developed the software for the program, which is a mashup of the Internet application google earth and a tool that allows users to upload incidents of violence through their mobile phone or Internet browser. The incidents were then plotted into a map using the locations given by informants and within weeks they had documented in detail hundreds of incidents of violence and received hundreds of thousands site visits from around the world (Goldstein and Rotich p 3). Ushahidi is in many ways a good example of how the current mediascape is evolving and changing. Not long ago it would have been almost incomprehensible to think that new and groundbreaking technology would emerge out of poor African countries, but Ushahidi has since been used and remixed by citizens and aid agencies in many different countries during crisis’ such as floods, storms, wildfires and earthquakes as well as elections. Up until now much of the software developed in Africa have been low-tech applications made for conventional mobile phones, however with increasing Internet penetration and smart phones this creates new possibilities for even more ground breaking innovations, which we will likely see the impact of in development cooperation in the near future. References De Bruijn, Mirjam. 2008. The Telephone has Grown Legs: Mobile Communication and Social Change at the Margins of African Society. Afrika Studie Centrum. Inaugural Address. Universitet Leiden. Clinton, Hillary Rodham. Remarks on Internet Freedom. US Department of State. Retrieved February 16, 2012, from 2010/01/135519.htm
  18. 18. 18 Christensen, Christian. 2011. Discourses of Technology and Liberation: State Aid to Net Activists in an Era of “Twitter Revolutions”. The Communication Review. Issue 3 2011 p. 233 – 253. Christensen, Christian. 2011. Twitter Revolutions? Addressing Media and Dissent. The Communication Review. Issue 3 2011 p. 155 - 157. Benkler, Yochai. 2006. The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. Yale University Press. New Haven. (ISBN 0-300-11056-1) Deibert, Ronald & Rafael Rohozinski. 2010. Liberation vs. Control in Cyberspace. Journal of Democracy. October 2010 vol. 21 number 4, p. 43 – 57. Gladwell, Malcolm. 2011. Small Change: Why the Revolution will not be Tweeted. The New Yorker. Retrieved February 16, 2012, from http:// Morazov, Evgeny. 2011. Taming Cyberspace. Index on Censorship. March 2011 vol. 40 no. 1 p. 50-55. Morazov, Evgeny. 2011. The Net Dilusion – The Dark Side of the Internet. PublicAffairs. United States. (ISBN 978-1586488741) Rao, Madanmohan. 2011. Mobile Africa Report 2011: Regional Hubs of Excellence and Innovation. Mobile Monday. Retrieved February 16, 2012, from
  19. 19. 19 Social and Mobile Media in ICT4D Paula Uimonen, SPIDER
  20. 20. 20 Can Facebook, Twitter, and mobile phones change the world? Obviously not! But there is something to be said for social networking sites, online news feeds, and mobile communication when it comes to ICT for Development (ICT4D). This paper will identify some key features of social and mobile media and relate these to social and political change, while paying attention to global patterns of digital stratification. Spider-supported projects that aim to use blogs and mobile phones in the fight against corruption in Africa will be used to illustrate and concretize opportunities as well as challenges. Reflections on how a networked organization like Spider can benefit from social media will be combined with a self-critical assessment of some pitfalls involved. What’s revolutionary about social media? If there ever was a medium that fulfilled our right to express ourselves freely, it would have to be the Internet. No other medium allows information to flow so freely, in total disregard of existing national and cultural boundaries. No other medium requires so little resources to reach out to so many. As such, the Internet breathes new life into the principles of freedom of expression and opinion that guide press freedoms throughout the democratic world. To recapitulate, Article 19 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” In many ways, the Internet realizes these ideals by providing a public forum of global reach. These lines are taken from an article I wrote titled “Networking for Democracy: The Internet and The Developing World.” It appeared in The Namibian 15th Anniversary Commemorative Magazine, after being published in Deutschland magazine, which the editors of The Namibian had somehow come across, probably online. At the time, I had never been to Sub-Saharan Africa, let alone Namibia, but having an article published in the magazine made me feel somehow connected to this part of the world. And I suspect the editors appreciated that my article helped the Social and Mobile Media in ICT4D Paula Uimonen
  21. 21. 21 magazine keep up with global trends like Internet and democratization, based on my research in Southeast Asia. I wrote that article in 2000, long before social media existed, yet it captures some essential features of the Internet that have since come to fruition. Having studied the Internet since 1995, I cannot help but note that public claims on the democratic power of social media resonate quite well with the utopian visions of social change that characterized earlier discourses about the Internet. Could it be that proponents of the ‘social media revolution’ are too young to recall the ‘Internet revolution’? Or is there something fundamentally different about social media? I tend to take claims about the novelty of social media with a pinch of salt. But I recognize that there is something to be said for generational gaps in social media use. People who have grown up with the Internet seem more apt at blogging, tweeting and facebooking than those of us born before it, at least in the well-connected parts of the world. Even so, there is something to be said for similarities between social media and the Internet in general. I would argue that social media is above all a manifestation of the “culture of networking” that distinguishes the Internet (Uimonen 2001). The power of social media lies in the ability to connect people, to mediate and mobilize social networks. This is an inherent feature of the Internet, not just social media. Nonetheless, it is much easier to set up a blog than a web site. Similarly, it takes very little skills to open a Facebook account and seeing that almost 1/3 of the world’s Internet population are on Facebook, you are quite likely to meet old and new friends. So I would argue that social media are not revolutionary in terms of networking tools, which simply build on the social and cultural characteristics of the Internet, but they do make these more accessible. Just like the Internet, social media are decentralized, interactive, boundary-crossing media. By making these networking tools more readily available to people around the world, social media fortify some of the revolutionary features of the Internet. By revolutionary I mean ground- breaking and innovative, rather than politically radical, although the Internet also has a history of facilitating political activism and reform. We have now become so accustomed to this global information resource that we may forget what our news intake was like before the web or how difficult it was to organize political and social movements before we had email, let alone twitter. The prominence of networking as a principle of social organization has been well- established by prominent scholars, who define the world in terms of a global
  22. 22. 22 network society (Castells 2004, 2009) or a network of networks (Hannerz 1992, 1996). Although some Internet scholars shun away from network theory, I tend to take the opposite view. When we are dealing with a media technology that is generally defined as a “network of networks” it makes sense to build on a theoretical body that captures the essence of the Internet, especially when social theory even precedes digital networking (Hannerz 1980). Social networks are as old as humanity, but there is something to be said for social change when one of the most basic principles of human existence is mediated by new forms of communication and interaction. These days networks are everywhere, and through social media they are made visible as well as scalable. This has direct implications for power. As Castells (2004, 2009) argues, in the network society, power as well as counterpower is organized in networks. Thus while the ‘sources’ of social power have not changed fundamentally, the ‘terrain’ where relations of power operate have changed in major ways, “it is primarily organized around networks, not single units” (Castells 2009: 50). What makes network theory particularly compelling is that it is equally applicable to mobile media. In many developing regions, the mobile phone is far more widespread than the Internet. There is now an estimated 2 billion Internet users around the world and around 4 billion mobile phones in circulation, out of which some 1 billion are smart phones with Internet access. So network theory goes a long way in capturing the social and cultural essence of both social and mobile media. And this is why social and mobile media are revolutionary, because they facilitate, even fortify, the culture of networking. At a time when the dominant global trend is directed at deconstruction of the social (deregulation of the private sector, privatization of the public sector, degradation of our environment), the fact that social and mobile media enable people to connect and mobilize translates into revolutionary (in the sense of counter-hegemonic) power. The Arab spring, the Spanish revolution and now the global “occupy movement” all point towards mediated bottom-up mobilization against top-down political and economic structures. Of course it was not Twitter or Facebook that brought down Mubarak. People did. But if social media played no role in this, why on earth did the Egyptian authorities shut down the Internet? At a time when power and counterpower are organized in networks, it is quite clear that any technology that
  23. 23. 23 mediates networking will have considerable political ramifications. This is why governments around the world are becoming increasingly nervous about the popularity of social and mobile media. Digital stratification and ICT4D The uneven distribution of digital media is of course highly problematic, especially from a global perspective, which is why ICT4D is an important field of intervention and research. Discourses on the digital divide have been around longer than the term ICT4D, which was popularized during the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Geneva in 2003. Over time, polemic debates have become more nuanced, shifting from a technical focus to a more embedded understanding of socio-economic, cultural and political gaps. Even so, the term itself suggests a rather clear-cut division between ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots,’ focusing on digital inclusion/exclusion (cf. Castells 2004, 2009). In reality, patterns of digital stratification are all but binary, since the uneven distribution of requisite material and cultural resources is highly complex. Nonetheless, various instruments used to measure ICT offer an indication of general patterns of digital stratification, especially for comparisons between “developed” and “developing” countries. One way of measuring the impact of social media is to assess the number of users. When searching for images in Google I found images depicting Facebook as a country (see Figure 1). And it is true that with an estimated 700 million users, Facebook can be compared to the population of a whole country, a rather large one on top of that. 700 million users is of course an impressive number, representing about 10% of the world population, but what about global distribution? While some 209 million or 25,6% of the population in Europe and 168 million or 48,4% of the population in North America use Facebook, in Africa the number of users is 30 million or 3,0% of the population (See Figure 2). In Asia, the percentage of the population is also Figure 1: Facebook as a well populated country. Source: Google images
  24. 24. 24 quite low (3,9%), but in this populous region, the number of users is quite high at 153 million. When it comes to mobile phones, the distribution is less unequal. In 2010, mobile phone penetration (measured in subscriptions) was 114,2% for developed countries and 70,1% for developing countries (ITU 2011). This can be compared to an Internet penetration of 68,8% in developed countries, as opposed to 21,1% in developing countries (Ibid.). So while the Internet may be out of reach for most people in developing countries, the mobile phone is far more accessible. Of course there are still major gaps in terms of quality and affordability, but the majority of people in developing countries now have access to mobile phones. As companies are developing cheap models of smart phones, a growing number of people in developing countries are also able to access the Internet via their mobile phones. Still, for the poorest of the poor, the mobile phone tends to be a low-end model. I am introducing these statistics to remind us that although social and mobile media are global, they are unevenly distributed, in many ways correlating with other development indicators. Indeed, the ICT Development Index (IDI), which measures ICT infrastructure, skills and use for 152 countries around the world, shows quite clearly that the poorest countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America 0 12,5 25 37,5 50 Asia Africa Europe Latin America North America Middle East The Carribbean Oceania/Australia World Total Internet World Stats on 21 October 2011, Figure 2: Facebook around the world in june 2011 (facebook users as % of population)
  25. 25. 25 also rank the lowest when it comes to ICT. As noted in the latest IDI measurement, “While most of the leading IDI countries are still from the developed world, it is encouraging to see that the most dynamic performers are developing countries. The majority of these are middle-income countries, however, and most of the least developed countries remain at the bottom of the index.” (Ibid: iii). Mediated social activism in practice: Examples from Tanzania and Uganda How can social and mobile media be used in the fight against corruption? And what are some of the challenges involved? Two recently started Spider-supported projects in Tanzania and another Sub-Saharan African country offer some insights into the added value of social and mobile media as well as issues to be considered. "Not Here" is a project that seeks to develop web and mobile interfaces to rate and report corruption. The initial pilot project focuses on one sector, where project partners and ICT volunteers will collaborate with organizations that are actively combating corruption in that sector. Through the project, technology platforms based on free and open source software (FOSS) will be developed. Individuals in the sector will use these platforms to record, report, and publicize quiet corruption (e.g. incompetence and misrepresentation of credentials) and hard corruption (e.g. bribery and sexual favors). With security as an overriding concern, "Not Here" has to balance openness and transparency with anonymity and integrity. While social and mobile media can be powerful tools in exposing and reporting corruption, they are also risky. Since project activities are aimed at identifying and even taking legal action against actual instances of corruption, these efforts can entail serious repercussions. The people behind this initiative are concerned about their own security as well as the security of people involved in the project, so their integrity and anonymity has to be protected at all times. At the same time, the project partners have to ensure the legality of their actions, which requires considerable expertise to verify and validate incoming reports, not to mention precautionary measures to ensure that any legal steps taken follow due legal procedure. Indeed, the development of web and mobile applications is the easy part of this complex project.
  26. 26. 26 The Chanjo project tackles corruption in a very different manner, combining music, social media and mobile phones. Chanjo, which means “vaccination” in Kiswahili, is a campaign against corruption, laziness and selfishness. A group of Tanzanian musicians will tour the entire country and perform in open public spaces, playing music with a strong-anti corruption message while encouraging open debate among participants. To reach a wider audience, the project team will document their activities through a blog, which will also expand the public forum for debate. The music will be distributed for free through the Internet and over mobile phones, and the team will use photo and video for documentation. In the Chanjo project artistic creativity has to be balanced with technological limitations. Unlike the ICT-savvy Not Here team, the Chanjo project team is composed of young artists with very limited technical skills. In preparations of this project it became clear that the group had to involve a young blogger to master the online interface. Even so, the team is having problems integrating the blog into their activities. While they are experts at organizing performances and involving their audiences in interactive debate, their blogging is not all that astute. In this respect, Facebook offers a complimentary communication tool. Some of the team members have large (+1,000) networks in Facebook, and they are far more used to facebooking than to blogging. In a Tanzanian cultural context, facebooking ties in with local notions of friendship, thus mediating the cultural ethos of pamoja (togetherness) that characterizes social relations (Uimonen 2012). Through status updates and wall posts on their Facebook pages, the Chanjo performers are able to share information as well as direct their friends to the blog, Figure 3: Chanjo team preparing nationwide tour Photo: Paula Uimonen Figure 4: Performance and debate on corruption Photo: Paula Uimonen
  27. 27. 27 thus using one social medium to promote the use of another social medium through remediation. Who likes Spider? Like most organizations, Spider uses social media to communicate with partners and stakeholders, in addition to a web site and online newsletter. More precisely, Spider has a Facebook page, a Twitter account and a Linked-in account. None of these social media platforms are particularly well-populated: Spider has 105 members in Linked-In, 412 followers in Twitter, and 56 likes in Facebook. By comparison, the online newsletter is distributed to a network of some 850 people. Since Spider is a network organization, social media make sense, offering networking tools for textual and audiovisual communication. Spider’s network is spread around the world, the newsletter reaching people in over 40 different countries. Social media can obviously augment global communication and interaction, thus enforcing as well as visualizing Spider’s networks. However, social media offer numerous challenges, which are not easily dealt with. Over the years, social media have become a “truism,” organizations are “expected to have a presence,” Daniel Berggren, Spider’s Communication Officer notes when we discuss our use of social media. But being there does not automatically translate into an active use of social media, which requires considerable time and effort, as well as certain social and technical skills. There is a risk of appearing “not to be social” if you do not use these tools in a well-thought out manner, Daniel reflects. And it is true that when you appear in social media, you are expected to be more social than in other digital media. After all, that is the point. But communication and interaction in a professional context takes more effort than telling your friends what you had for dinner. Over the years Facebook in particular has evolved into what could be conceptualized as a “parallel web.” Initially a social networking site for college students in the United States, the growing popularity of Facebook has made it an accompaniment, if not alternative, to other web-based applications, especially web sites. Organizations and companies are encouraged to have Facebook pages, a trend that media and communication consultants in particular are pushing. But there is also a growing fear of exclusion. If you are not on Facebook, people may
  28. 28. 28 think your organization is outdated. We have yet to see the consequences of the push and pull of Facebook, but it is worth asking ourselves where we want to re- draw the boundaries between personal and professional communication. So, while social media offer great opportunities for organizations like Spider, they also pose new challenges, not least in terms of the resources required for communication. References Castells, M. 2004. Informationalism, networks, and the network society: a theoretical blueprint. In Castells, M. (Ed.), The network society. A cross-cultural perspective. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar. Castells, M. 2009. Communication power. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Hannerz, U. 1980. Exploring the city: inquiries toward an urban anthropology. New York: Columbia U.P Hannerz, U. 1992. The global ecumene as a network of networks. In Kuper, A. (Ed.), Conceptualizing Society. London: Routledge. Hannerz, U. 1996. Transnational connections. Culture, people, places. London: Routledge. ITU. 2011. Measuring the Information Society. Geneva: ITU. Online at http:// MIS_2011_without_annex_5.pdf Uimonen, P. 2001. Transnational.dynamics@ Internet, modernization and globalization. Diss. Stockholm: Univ. Uimonen, P. 2012. Digital Drama: Teaching and learning art and media in Tanzania. New York: Routledge.
  29. 29. 29 Social Media are Amazing - But How Big is Their Impact and How Can We Trust Them? Petter Åttingsberg, International Media Support
  30. 30. 30 Today, social media allow us to follow political events and news without a journalist’s filter. This places heavy responsibility on the users of social media to assess the credibility of the information and the sources behind it. Despite the influence that social media have on certain groups, their outreach is usually limited to certain groups until the mainstream media may get hold of the story and publish it to the masses. This article will examine the challenges users of social media are exposed to if they use it as their primary source of information. The article looks into the schism between the “old” established media where you can find “reliable” information that is backed up by journalists, and the new information sources where the users themselves have to sort the information they find on social media such as Facebook. Finally, the article will address how IMS (International Media Support) is working with this new type of journalism and flow of information that are found in social media. Explosion of social media In 2011 social media took a huge leap forward in spite of its short history of existence. The Arab spring revealed that social media was more than a means for people to stay in touch with friends and old classmates. It had also become an important tool for a young generation to express their political views, and rise up from oppression. One of the reasons behind its success is the stark rise in Internet usage in the Middle East over the last few years. In December 2000 Egypt had 450.0001 Internet users ( Now there is a total of 20.1 million. Social Media are Amazing - But How Big is Their Impact and How Can We Trust Them? Petter Åttingsberg
  31. 31. 31 During the uprising in Egypt the use of social media also exploded. According to the Arab Social Media Report from Dubai School of Government, Egypt gained 1.9 million new Facebook users during the first quarter of 2011. This is equivalent to 2.27 per cent of the population. The total number of Facebook users in Egypt is now reaching 9.4 million and grew by more than 1.7 million in the last six months2. If we use Egypt as an example of the growth of social media in the last year, it has been enormous. The same tendency of growth can be detected throughout the rest of the Middle East and North African region (MENA). In Algeria, for instance, Internet usage increased from 50.000 users in December 2000 to 4.7 million users in June 2011. Of these, 2.3 million have a Facebook subscription. The impact of Twitter Twitter has also had a major impact in the region. The estimated Twitter population in the Arab region at the end of March 2011 was around 6.5 million. The estimated number of tweets generated in the Arab region in the first quarter of 2011 (1 January – 30 March) by the “active users” was 22,750,000 tweets. The estimated number of daily tweets is 252,000 tweets per day, or 175 tweets a minute, or roughly three tweets a second. Facebook users in the MENA region are primarily young people. A demographic breakdown of Facebook users in the MENA region shows that 75 per cent of users are between the ages of 15-29. We can assume that the same is true for Twitter and other social media users. Alarming videos There are a number of interesting findings to be made on the Syrian "We are all Hamza Alkhateeb's" Facebook site. Amongst the many disturbing postings, there is a video of a man sitting on the ground, which lasts for 15 minutes. He cries and he begs while a man in uniform whips him with a thin stick. The 15 minutes feel like an eternity and it is clear that only few would watch it until its end. A cell phone or
  32. 32. 32 a small camera records the video. Who recorded it? We do not know. How did the video end up on Facebook? We don’t know. The text below the video says that this man is being tortured because he recorded the military with a mobile phone at a demonstration in Syria. This is not unusual or surprising. But there is no by-line. No one takes responsibility for the text other than the anonymous people behind the page on which the video has been posted. This video and text are not unique. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are full of these kinds of alarming videos. They are recorded in Syria, Egypt, Bahrain, Tunisia or Yemen, just to mention a few countries. It is difficult to get an overview of the material and its authenticity when surfing social media. While we applaud the freedom of expression that lies in Facebook and other socialising media, we have to consider the increasing responsibility that is transferred from the person behind the information to the user. The user now has to critically filter the information provided and not trust everything that is posted on a Facebook wall. No one has carried out fact-based checks on the information or background checks on the sources. For the general masses, also in the Middle East, newspapers, news websites, TV and radio remain the primary sources of news, as the amount of information generated through social media can be overwhelming. In the Middle East, satellite TV is the main source of information for the average citizen regardless of their educational background or lack there of. Large sections of the population in countries like Egypt and Morocco are illiterate and are therefore excluded from direct access to print media. In Egypt, 40 per cent of the total population of 80 million are illiterate. Better than police radio Social media, and here, primarily YouTube, Facebook and Twitter played a major and an important role in the Arab awakening. The uprising began in Tunis in response to the desperate actions of Mohamed Bouazizi, who set himself on fire in protest over the confiscation of his goods and his treatment by local officials. He died 4 January 2011 from his injuries. Via social media, journalists and interested citizens could follow the events in Tunis closer than ever before.
  33. 33. 33 Some would argue that social media had its real breakthrough during the riots in Iran in June 2009. Mobile videos and tweets became the Iranians’ link to the outside world, a world that suddenly began to listen. Social media allowed outsiders direct access to what was happening inside the country where the regime under normal circumstances had full control of the information coming out. Social media became the preferred source of information for many journalists during this time. Previously, journalists would use police radio to follow the news of this nature. Today, many reporters have their own streams of information that they subscribe to on social media. They have selected people they can trust, and treat them as ordinary sources of information. Social media – is it really new? Throughout the Arab uprising, Western media have characterised what happened as a social media revolution. The role of social media has been interpreted as something different, something unique that has not been seen before. This is both true and false. It is true because the development of social media over the last few years has given ordinary people the possibility of expressing themselves to a larger audience than ever before in the blink of an eye. They are able to create digital networks that have no borders. They can use simple methods to transmit live TV, record sound, take pictures and write messages. Everything can be uploaded in a split second, and potentially made available to all users of the Internet, which according to totalled 2 billion users in March 2011. It is also false because prior to social media, you had local pirate radio, underground newspapers, telephones and more. Social media is just another means of communicating with the help of modern technology. Social media or the Internet is just another communications tool. Credibility and responsibility But let us be clear. Social media has had a huge impact on the information stream both in the Middle Eastern countries and outside the region. Social Media has
  34. 34. 34 connected people who previously did not know one another. Via Twitter, messages have both been sent to and from the Egyptians who marched down to Tahrir Square. Also journalists from BBC, Aljazeera, CNN and the rest of the world’s press have monitored these flows of information. They have frequently quoted what was written in these information streams while citing Twitter or another social media as their source – thus not taking responsibility for the content they were reproducing. Herein lies the problem of social media - who is responsible for what is trustworthy? While there is no doubt that there is much useful information available in social media, there are no demands of credibility and ethics tied to what is published. Users of Twitter and Facebook do not necessarily have the same ethics and skills as those required of a trained journalist. However, it is important to emphasise that some journalists also chose not to practise this code of ethics. Making money on torture Going back to the man in the video in Syria who was being beaten, we ask again: who recorded the video? It is unlikely that the military themselves would film this event and disburse it. Rima Marrouch is a Syrian blogger and journalist who lives in Lebanon. She participated in a seminar organised by Youth for Democracy in Copenhagen in autumn 2011. She said that there were some military people who sold videos of torture to various opposition pages on Facebook. If this is true, social media is indirectly supporting torture by providing a channel for this kind of footage. At the annual Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ) conference, organised in collaboration with International Media Support and SIDA (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) in Amman, a video was shown of a demonstration in Bahrain. The journalist who presented the clip told the audience that this was a clip of a protester who was hit by a bullet from the military who were disguised as civilians. There were no pictures of the shot, only of a crowd standing by a car. The journalist claimed that this was a military vehicle from which shots had been fired against the crowd. Viewers of the video
  35. 35. 35 could not see either weapons or anything else that indicated that shots had been fired from the vehicle. There was no evidence that the shot was fired by the military and most journalists would find a lack of visual proof. In comparison we can use the picture from the clashes in Cairo on 17 December 2011 where footage shows a representative of the military on Tahrir Square firing his gun into the crowd of demonstrators. This is a good example of visual proof, which often is missing in social media reports. If you follow the YouTube and Facebook stream from the Syrian SNN (Sham News Network), shocking pictures and videos of President Assad’s assaults on the population are published daily. As such there is no doubt that there is abuse. But at SNN, image after image will be published of dead people. We do not know who they are. We do not know who is responsible for publishing the information. The photos could be 10 years old, have fictitious names attached to them and have lots of other errors. In December, SNN published a video of disguised military men who destroyed a store and chased the shop owners down the street – or so they claimed. The video showed a group of men who knocked on a steel door to a shop, but nothing more. For ordinary people it may be difficult to decipher what is the correct version in a story such as this. Bloggers’ impact on established media Rima Marrouch and many other bloggers do not think that we should give social media the amount of credit we do. It was not social media that created the revolution, but the people in the street. Many bloggers disagree with the statement that the Arab spring could not have happened without social media. Ranwa Yehia, director of "Arab Digital Expression Foundation" supports this view. She explains that it is not the success of social media that made the revolution, but it contributed to making the revolution happen. Yehia believes that social media, in collaboration with the mainstream media, has a huge impact. Ranwa Yehia explains that the role of bloggers is to create events, such as a "We hate SCAF (Supreme Council of the Armed Forces) day". Such an event makes the mainstream media circumvent their ban on writing critically about SCAF by quoting bloggers on what they write.
  36. 36. 36 The revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt were ignited by incidents that were reported first in social media and then broadcast on TV. Satellite TV is the largest media throughout the MENA region, with a penetration of 98 per cent. In Tunisia, it was the story of Mohamed Bouazizi who set himself on fire that that set the protests in motion. In Egypt, it was the Google CEO Wael Ghnomi's speech on TV after he was released from several days of detention, which enraged people to act. There are also those who claim that the closure of the Internet on 28 January 2011 contributed to gathering the masses because they could no longer follow developments online. But again, both social media and established media played a very important role in the uprising in the Middle East, both together and separately. Only few doubt that Wael Ghnomi’s posting on the Facebook page, "We are all Khaled Said", which called people out for the demonstration on 25 January has had a great impact on young Egyptians. The posting said: “January 25: Revolution against Torture, Corruption, Unemployment and Injustice. " It was published two hours after he had asked on Facebook whether anyone wanted to do in Egypt what they had done in Tunisia. Today, his Arabic page, "We are all Khaled Said", has nearly 1.8 million followers. Of the 80 million people living in Egypt, 20 million use the Internet. In light of this, “We are all Khaled Said” has almost 10 per cent of all Internet users as followers, a huge number. Social media for the already “informed” citizens The ones who argue against the impact of social media will claim that in Egypt, for example, the outreach of social media was limited to the young, well-educated intellectuals, the “already informed citizens”, and not a broad audience. Butthey also reached the Egyptian journalists who used the protesters’ information for their stories, and thereby made them available to a larger audience. When journalists from around the world began to read what the young generation wrote, they quickly turned the spotlight towards the Middle East. When TV began to use the information from social media, people were made aware of what was going on, and the whole world could follow the events. By
  37. 37. 37 using references to social media, two billion people with Internet access suddenly were able to follow the events on their own. Suddenly they had the opportunity to make a choice, either to follow it through the mainstream media, or through their Twitter account or Facebook profile. Change in breaking news Social media has forever changed the shape of breaking news. The role of most journalists on a web-desk today is to gather information from various social media streams during a breaking news scenario. This, because Twitter and other social media operate at a speed and with a content that cannot be provided by a single reporter on the ground can provide. With a Twitter stream and tweet pictures you can get an overview in a short space of time that was not possible just a few years ago. Social media has also forever changed the way we receive our information. In the last 3 - 4 years, social media have had a tremendous impact on journalism. But as I have tried to argue in this article, information from social media must be treated with caution. The work of International Media Support In IMS (International Media Support) where we work with freedom of expression and developing journalism in countries affected by armed conflict, human insecurity and political transition, we encounter all the above challenges. Based on journalism's basic code of independence and credibility, it can sometimes be difficult to work with social media. IMS does believe however, that social media, and ordinary people's ability to communicate and provide information, greatly help to improve journalism and contribute to major advances for free speech. As an organisation, which, among other things, works with professionalisation of media, we see great potential in working in the grey zone that exists between social media and journalism. In our daily work we see what benefits may arise when we work with ordinary citizens/activist and bloggers. One of the obvious advantages is when we can engage people outside the big cities to contribute to established
  38. 38. 38 journalism. In countries such as Jordan and Egypt, the main media outlets are located in the biggest cities and tend to focus on stories from the big cities. They do not have the capacity, or the financial ability to establish sub-offices in the rural areas. The consequence of this is a metro-polycentric point of view that tends to forget the problems in the countryside. IMS works with both grass-root organisations and large and established media. In both cases one of the fundamental ideas is to work with the cornerstone in journalism, which is independence and credibility. Citizen journalism IMS has for a period of time worked with a project in Jordan, where we have established collaboration between a national TV station Roya TV, a national newspaper, Al Ghad, and three universities in the countryside. The students at the universities contribute with video reports to the newspaper and TV channel. Those who deliver the stories are students or volunteers who want to work with the project. In other words, this is a hybrid project where we train non-journalists to use the most basic training in how to make a journalistic story. Our hope is to get their stories out nation wide. A by-product of this is that they also release their stories on their own Facebook profiles or Youtube channels. With another IMS partner, the independent newspaper Al Masry Al Youm (AMAY) in Egypt, we have conducted training in video journalism. The results of this training can be seen on their own Facebook pages. This has two functions; one to spread their stories into their own network; the other is to create traffic to AMAY’s homepage and Facebook portal. Cell phones in the countryside IMS has recently contributed to a project at Al Masry Al Youm (AMAY), where the goal is to get widened coverage of the country in the paper. Equipped with mobile phones, and a Danish-developed reporting application for iPhone and Android, AMAY have trained some of their regular reporters to use the
  39. 39. 39 application to send back reports to their editors from the field. The main idea of this application, developed by Danish ViewWorld, is to make reporting easy. This app is so simple that ordinary people without any previous technical skills can use it. This will give AMAY the possibility to train good local talent to produce short reports to the newspaper. Employees in International Media Support also use the application when they travel. Their reports are then posted on the IMS website ( Bloggers and activists In IMS’ work in Iraq, we have worked with bloggers. Together with Iraqi colleagues we are trying to create a network for bloggers. The goal is to create a better network for bloggers and to improve cooperation between established media and bloggers in Iraq and around the region. The advantages of linking bloggers closer to mainstream media are two-fold. It gives the bloggers a wider readership, and for a newspaper it also contributes to broader and more nuanced coverage of what is happening in the country. You can apply this way of thinking to all the countries we work with in the Middle East. However, the challenge is that that many newspapers are not at liberty to blog- posts, which are too critical of their governments, which means that cooperation, is not always easy. Growth can lessen social interaction Within the concept of social media lies an expectation of socialisation and dialogue. But as the various personal initiatives grow, they tend to become one- way communication. This means that if a Facebook page like "We are all Khaled Said" grows from being a small site with one person communicating with his/hers friends to a big site with many followers, the dialogue disappears between the sender and the receiver. On the other hand it will also create a new line of communication between users on the site who share a common interest.
  40. 40. 40 Today, everyone has the possibility to start his or her own channel of communication. But when it begins to grow, the need for professionalism increases to give readers the most trustworthy and accurate picture of reality. In just few years, we have witnessed an impressive development of social media. In the MENA region, both expansion of Internet broadband and mobile broadband has contributed to online access. There is no doubt that this expansion will continue. From a journalistic perspective, this poses some challenges, as discussed in this article. But from an overall perspective, the development is positive. Social media and the Internet give every one with an Internet connection, or access to an Internet café, the means to communicate with the whole world and thereby contribute to greater mutual understanding and freedom of expression.
  41. 41. 41 UNDP’s Use of Social Media Stine Kirstein Junge, UNDP Nordic Office
  42. 42. 42 Why does UNDP use social media in external communication? In UNDP we see social media as a tool to create dynamic opportunities for UNDP communicators, enabling direct real-time interactivity with our audiences. UNDP engages with social media in external communication for various reasons. For example we use social media to show that we are transparent, to connect with the conversation around development topics, to reach out to new audiences to advocate for development topics in general, to build communities etc. etc. In today’s world more than hundred social media channels exist. UNDP makes use of some of them. Use of twitter enables UNDP (!/ UNDP) to engage directly and in real-time with its 52,916 followers. Twitter also has a multiplying effect, meaning that words, which are tweeted to for example 5 people can be passed on by these 5 people, then by 20, then by 100. At the same time, global social networking platforms such as Twitter make it possible for an international organization such as UNDP to reach out to all its communities around the world. Turning to another social media channel, Facebook, UNDP uses Facebook to crowd source solutions for its problems. An example of simple problem solving on Facebook was when UNDP in 2011 launched its new website ( with the slogan, “Empowered Lives, Resilient Nations!” On UNDP’s Facebook page, which at that time had more than 75,000 people that liked it, people were asked to translate the slogan into their language or dialect. Some arguments for using social media have a more imaginative character. For example the possibility of reaching out to everyone who owns a mobile phone. According to ITU World Telecommunication/ICT indicators database2, the mobile cellular subscriptions in the whole world have increased from 719 million in 2000 to 5.3 billion in 2010. Here it is interesting to note that the share of UNDP’s Use of Social Media1 Stine Kirstein Junge 1 This article builds mainly on Silke von Brokchausen’s prezi presentation about UNDP’s use of social media: 2
  43. 43. 43 subscriptions in developing countries has increased tremendously, from approx. 240 million in 2000 (1/3 of 719 million) to approx. 4 billion in 2010 (¾ of 5.3 billion). The volume of mobile phones in the world and in the developing world can also be illustrated with this quote by journalist on New York Times, Nicholas D. Kristof: “Here’s an interesting statistic that goes to global health, global poverty and human priorities. Worldwide, 4.6 billion people have cell phones. But only 4.3 billion have access to a toilet. So more humans have phones than access to a toilet. Wow!”3 However it is still a big challenge to use social media to reach all people in the world who owns a mobile phone. It might even be unrealistic. People subscribing to cellular phones, might be illiterate and only able to use mobile phones for verbal communication, or they need to be reached in native languages, or they might have a mobile phone but very limited internet access etc. etc. With regards to UNDP’s external communication – and reaching out to the media - Twitter is a useful tool. UNDP’s communicators can engage directly with journalists and find the key ones by using for example platforms like Muck Rack ( that lists tweeting journalists by topic. At Muck Rack you can subscribe to journalists’ tweets. Somehow Muck Rack enables you to get tomorrow’s newspaper today – you get it by tracking short messages on twitter written by journalists who do the muckracking for major media outlets. Muck Rack and similar sites, such as Google+ makes it easy to follow one line, real time reporting. Social media also allow us to track conversations around development issues, which have relevance for UNDP and that are happening for example on Twitter or Facebook. This can be done via various tools such as Radian6, Hootsuite, and Google real-time. 3 Nicholas D. Kristof, facebook posting on 25 March, 8:15 pm, 2011
  44. 44. 44 Monitoring and analyzing social media conversations UNDP monitors and analyses social media conversations. To illustrate this I will repeat a UNDP case study on how UNDP used social media at the International Women’s Day (IWD), on 8th March 20114. “International Women’s Day – UNDP brings the conversation online” The Challenge The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is the United Nations’ global development network, an organization advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. UNDP is on the ground in over 170 countries and territories, working with them on solutions to global and national development challenges. International Women’s Day is a very important day for UNDP. It gives the organization the chance to reach out to people around the world and share in conversations about women’s empowerment. This year (2011), on March 8th, International Women’s Day celebrated its 100th birthday and UNDP thought that this would be a good opportunity to start trying to map out their online community and better understand who their stakeholders are and which social media sites they like to use. The approach UNDP chief Helen Clark celebrated International Women’s Day with a live Twitter chat, participants were encouraged to send their questions or comments about how they could empower women and achieve gender equality as a way to fight poverty and promote good governance. The questions ranged from “how can we achieve universal girls’ education”, to “is microcredit a useful tool to empower women?” “I can think of no better way to spark conversations around the globe on ending gender inequality than through the dynamic use of social media,” says Helen Clark. “These networks are an incredibly powerful advocacy tool to educate and interact on the challenges and opportunities we face, and to work together to address them.” In summary the International Women’s Day campaign enabled UNDP to find out more about which members of UNDP’s community were active on social media 4 The case study was published in Radian6 2011 1888 6 RADIAN (1888 672-3426)
  45. 45. 45 channels around the 8th of March, which channels they use, and when the conversations were happening. On the 8th of March there were over 200,000 posts related to International Women’s Day, 80 % of these conversations were happening on Twitter, with the rest happening on blogs and Facebook. With this insight UNDP identified 17,000 activists on Twitter and 600 on Facebook. It means that UNDP got to know, who the key activists are on women’s empowerment issues and UNDP can now reach out to these people and start building stronger relationships. So, UNDP uses social media to: 1. Find out more about which members of UNDP’s community that are active on social media channels 2. Find out when the conversations are happening, and 3. Find out which channels the members are using. UNDP’s social media channels As already mentioned UNDP uses various social media channels according to our communication goals and the respective communities that we want to reach. UNDP’s presence in 177 countries and territories around the world enables the organization to engage with national audiences in their native languages and on those social networking platforms that are relevant in the respective countries. For example an analysis of the online conversation around International Women’s Day showed UNDP that blogs and twitter were the leading channels. UNDP could then adjust our social media strategy on our global platforms accordingly. With regards to twitter UNDP has a global twitter account (@UNDP) in four UN languages (Spanish, French, Arabic and English) and a twitter account that feeds with newly posted UNDP jobs (@UNDP jobs). Further to this UNDP’s staff is tweeting. The most prominent of them is UNDP’s Administrator, Helen Clark. In addition to the people from UNDP who tweet UNDP also has more than 35 Country Offices and Thematic pages that tweet. Facebook is another social media channel vividly used by UNDP. UNDP has global Facebook accounts in French, English and Spanish. From UNDP’s Facebook it is possible to generate certain statistics. Looking at some demographic
  46. 46. 46 indicators (see figure 1) of the users of UNDP’s Facebook accounts, it tells that 50 % of the users are female, 48 % are male. Looking at age, most users are between 25-34 years old. The second largest user group with regards to age is the group between 18 and 24. Other age groups using Facebook reach very insignificant numbers. Most users are from the US but Pakistan also hits high followed by India and Indonesia. How is UNDP using social media? As illustrated with the case about the International Women’s Day, UNDP uses social media for two way dialogue and live twitter chats. By using the hash tag (#) followed by a key word (eg. #UNDPchat) it is possible to measure the impact of a campaign like the one on International Women’s Day. If we take the key words: Figure 1: Demographic indicators for UNDP’s Facebook accounts
  47. 47. 47 UNDP mentioned in relation to International Women’s Day, Gender, Equality, Women, Rights or Empowerment. These Key Words were mentioned 18.539 times in seven days (on 8 March and one week ahead). It is possible to retrieve a #UNDPCHAT Report from a live twitter chat event. With regards to the International Women’s Day case, 500 tweets generated 1,974,654 impressions, reaching an audience of 317,326 followers within 24 hours. Live tweeting from events is another way of using twitter. This was for example done by UNDP’s Cairo Office from the Transition Forum (#demtransition). And why live-tweeting? Live-tweeting: 1. Is note taking for yourself, 2. Provides key takeaways for those who are not participating in the event, 3. Enables you to join the conversation at the event, 4. Gives you the opportunity to make new contacts and gain followers, 5. Shows your expertise, 6. Is an example of social reporting. UNDP also does Facebook webcast. A Facebook interview with Helen Clark was for example done during the Review Summit for the Millennium Development Goals in 2010. It had 10.000 viewers. CNN has more viewers, but 10.000 is still a significant number, especially if it is UNDP’s target group that views. Social media is also used for Campaigns. At the World Environment Day UNDP invited friends on the global Facebook account to submit tree-hugger photos. And social media can also be used for listening and for reputation management. The tool, can be used for that. By submitting key words, for example Kenya and United Nations you will be able to see all persons and organizations that are tweeting on these keywords. Future use of social media in UNDP Further to UNDP’s use of social media channels to reach audiences, to be in dialogue with audiences, monitor the tweets done by journalists etc, UNDP’s staff members also take advantage of social media both in their professional and personal life. In UNDP’s Draft Social Media Guidelines it is stated that, as UNDP is strengthening its role of becoming a world-class knowledge based organization UNDP encourages staff to actively engage in blogging, posting comments and generally participate in online conversations, as long as these activities are not against the interest of UNDP and the staff members observe the standards of
  48. 48. 48 behavior required of international civil servants. As such, all participation in social media activities outside and at work is subject to these standards. The widespread and global use of social networking sites like Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook presents many opportunities for a decentralized organization like UNDP with presences in 177 countries and territories, but also some challenges. While UNDP encourages staff around the world to use these tools in staffs personal as well as professional capacity, UNDP also strives to ensure the security of its staff by providing guidance e.g. on how to use social media in crisis situations. In addition to that, UNDP's Office of Communication provides trainings, guidelines, an internal Wiki and best practice examples to staff worldwide to ensure coordinated and coherent messaging around UNDP's core issues on social networking platforms. In the future UNDP will also increase our blogging to tell more stories about our work in the field to show the human side of development. So, UNDP welcomes and recognizes the benefits of social media tools while at the same time acknowledging associated risks and challenges. Development 2.0 - using social media to achieve development goals This article has given examples of how and why UNDP uses social media with regards to external communication. But apart from that, UNDP is also using social media to achieve objectives in our key focus areas: Democratic Governance, Poverty Reduction, Crisis Prevention and Recovery, Energy and Environment and HIV/AIDS. is one example of how to use social media in UNDP’s work with Energy and Environment. is a wiki for water professionals worldwide. It provides water and sanitation related materials, knowledge and experience from UN practitioners, agencies and their programs around the globe. And it allows the user to contribute with her own knowledge and experience. In Bangladesh mobile phones are used for early warnings, in Kenya SMS alerts are used to support a peaceful referendum, and in Rwanda emergency health services are provided with a toll-free phone number. How UNDP will expand the use of
  49. 49. 49 social media for anticorruption in for example the former Soviet block, for crisis prevention and recovery in vulnerable states for poverty reduction in specific societies, and in more specific thematic areas of UNDP’s portfolio are challenges in the pipeline.
  50. 50. 50 How Can the Internet and Social Media Contribute to Community Communication for Empowerment? Birgitte Jallov, Independent Consultant
  51. 51. 51 The Ørecomm festival 2011 had ‘Agency in the mediatized world’ and ‘Media, Communication and Development in Transition’ as the overriding themes saying: “While it is easy to be mesmerized by the role of the new media in the processes of social change, we should be aware that the motivating force behind the upheavals is dissatisfaction and frustration over the underlying realities of poverty, unemployment and subdued human rights. The development challenges, the exclusion of many people from development processes lie at the heart of what is happening in the world right now.” Social media have been important tools in spurring radical change in the socio- political profile of many of the countries in North Africa and the Middle East over the past year. Keeping in touch and organising, voices rarely or never before heard in public, have furthermore come through to the anxiously listening and watching world directly via YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter, from where the messages have been amplified through the international news services including Aljazeera, BBC World and CCN. Empowerment has swept through towns, regions and countries, and technologies to block access to these services have been developed and worried governments eagerly attempted to have them implemented. This article addresses the issue of how to most effectively achieve the social change and empowerment required for communities – and individuals in them – to How Can the Internet and Social Media Contribute to Community Communication for Empowerment?1 Birgitte Jallov 1 This article is based on chapter 12 in Birgitte Jallov’s book: ‘EMPOWEMENT RADIO – Voices building a community’, launched on the WORLD RADIO DAY February 13, 2012 ( for more)
  52. 52. 52 counter the ‘poverty, unemployment and subdued human rights’ mentioned above. Conferences and other international high level sessions have over the past decade pointed to community radio as a possible answer to ‘the missing link’ between development needs and investments geared to meet those. Social media have proven to support the 2011 ‘Arab Spring’ importantly. What is the relation between the two? Will social media replace the role of community radio? Egypt social media and Philippines community radio stations2 It was hugely important yesterday that Secretary of State Clinton told the Mubarak government not to "block communications, including on social media." Non-government-non-corporate-controlled Internet is similar to the protections for community radio stations, a fight that is ongoing here in the US. I'm reminded of the role that community radio stations played in the 1980's overthrow of the Marcos regime in the P h i l i p p i n e s . M a r c o s recognized the importance of community radio and began to bomb many of the Catholic Church's radio stations. He was unable to get to all of them and it was through these small radio stations that the streets were organized towards the successful overthrow of Marcos. The bombs that governments use today to stop grassroots Internet communications are called "DPI," Deep Packet Inspection." Built by NARUS, it is a type of web filtering system that allows governments to monitor where all emails, web posts and phone calls come from -- what is being said -- and who is listening. It can also be used to shut down traffic at the main routers or servers, people use to connect to the internet – a so-called kill switch. Photo is part of the blog (see footnote) 2 This blog was posted By Adan Medrano on January 29, 2011:
  53. 53. 53 While community radio studios have become smaller and the equipment leaner – a studio can in principle be carried in a computer bag – communication opportunities through the internet and mobile phones are rapidly increasing. What is the impact on community radio? And what is the impact on the kind of empowerment radio, where communities take their destiny in their own hands through empowerment generated through work in and around a community owned ‘empowerment radio’3? The radio as an apparatus of communication ‘Radio is one-sided when it should be two-sided. It is purely an apparatus for distribution, for mere sharing out. So here is a positive suggestion: change this apparatus over from distribution to communication. The radio would be the finest possible communication apparatus in public life, a vast network of pipes. That is to say, it would be if it knew how to receive as well as to transmit, how to let the listener speak as well as hear, how to bring him into a relationship instead of isolating him. On this principle the radio should step out of the supply business and organise its listeners as suppliers.’ 4 In 1932, Bertolt Brecht was already questioning the potential of radio, requesting ‘the apparatus’ be turned from a source of distribution to one of communication, where the listener also becomes a supplier of information. Brecht, as Paulo Freire5 did almost forty years later, underscored dialogue and informed interaction as the basis for change. This dialogical nature is what the close-knit geographic communities around a community radio station create in thematic editorial groups, in listening clubs, and in the different groups of community action spurred by the work in and around the radio. The dialogical exchanges for change is what communities of interest generate via the social media, where access is available and affordable. 3 For much more on this concept and understanding see: Jallov, Birgitte: EMPOWERMENT RADIO –Voices building a community. EMPOWERHOUSE 2012 ( and 4 Bertolt Brecht: The Radio as an Apparatus of Communication, 1932, source-text/8/ 5 Paulo Freire: Pedagogy of the Oppressed. First published in Portuguese in 1968. In 1970 in English (in New York) by Continuum
  54. 54. 54 Access to high speed internet and connected smartphones is, however, still not common among the marginalised and vulnerable communities. It is still logical, therefore, to, focus on empowerment radio in communities in developing countries, where literacy is often not far above fifty per cent, where broadband connectivity has not yet reached that last mile (or more), and where the price of working online or using a mobile phone to connect is beyond the financial means of the ordinary citizen. Still it is important to look at the many new technological opportunities available, which are relevant for community radio for development. New technologies make features possible that are already used in many situations, and offer others that can inspire the future. With ‘networked communication’ as an overriding category for all of these new opportunities, it is likely that the face and shape of facilities and opportunities now available via the internet and known as ‘social media’ will continue to change. New services and opportunities will be added. The important characteristic here is the continued expansion of opportunities for networking. Social media include, at the time of writing this article: Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and photosharing tools. As our media environments continue to converge, many community radio stations already operate in circumstances where some or all of the above are integrated into the life of the radio station. The mandate and capacity of community radio stations, coupled with their technical equipment, including internet access, provides them with a powerful role in furthering their community’s and their members’ needs as well as strengthening their own services, network and outreach. Community radio, the mobile phone and the internet Within the existing community radio framework, most stations operate on a technical platform based on a hybrid of analogue cassette recording mixed with digital recording, editing and transmission equipment. Many radio stations also make use of mobile phones and internet access at the station.
  55. 55. 55 Mobile phone as a live, ‘outside broadcasting’ device Many community radio stations use mobile phones as an easy and effective tool for live transmission, including interviews and live reporting. While the technical quality has to be worked with and external, unrelated noises limited, it is a powerful tool to bring the outside world into the studio. In many developing areas, mobile phone companies even provide free subscriptions to community radio stations for the use of the mentioned services. In exchange the radio stations carry an agreed amount of consumer information from the mobile phone company as well as advertising within the framework possible at the station. Mobile phone as a connection from community to station Mobile phones are a powerful tool to enable large segments of the community to contact the radio station. Using (mobile) phones, listeners can contribute to programmes, request specific issues raised, and the station may offer, for example, a service of information on prices on agricultural products in nearby markets (if no national services are already doing this). It must, however, be recognised that it is often found that especially many women may not have, or may not want to use, credit for these types of phone calls. During election periods simple reporting by community radio stations via mobile phones from all polling stations has also been used in an attempt to curb the creativity often exercised when the ballot boxes move from the district to the capital city! Listening to the radio on the mobile phone While access to radio sets is rarely a real problem, it can also be tempting to use the mobile phone as a listening device. This is often technically possible but has important pitfalls. Listening may be possible via a Wi-fi connection to the Internet directly or through the mobile operator's network. When using an older or simpler phone, which does not support Wi-fi, it will be necessary to have a working internet connection from the phone to the mobile phone operator's network. Many operators offer to configure the phone automatically. Virtual Radio provides an easy and very light and flexible radio listening solution. However, access to the operator's network will create a lot of download traffic, and unless the user has a ’flat rate’ payment plan, the unlimited download of sound
  56. 56. 56 can become very expensive very quickly. It is important to check this with the operator. With the Wi-fi capabilities of modern phones it is possible to connect directly to the Internet (WLAN) and avoid all operator's costs. Here it is important to ensure that the connection is to a free wireless service. Apart from this online access many mobile phone producers have developed a separate FM radio access within mobile phones, working as any, ordinary FM radio receiver. This, of course, uses battery, but is otherwise a free service. Radio browsing via the Internet ‘Radio browsing’ consists of radio presenters gathering information on the internet (or on CD-ROMs and other digital sources) in response to listeners’ needs and queries. This can for example be done in advance or during a ‘call-in’ programme, where the presenter ‘visits’ these pages of information on the computer screen together with a local expert. For example, with a doctor for a health programme and together with the presenter they will describe, explain and discuss the information, and answer the listeners directly in the languages used by the community. Radio browsing is being used in many community radios in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. It has demonstrated radio’s potential for overcoming language (as well as technical and financial) barriers to access by finding, discussing, selecting and assimilating information available in a limited number of languages on the Internet. Issues of literacy, which naturally limits use and access to the internet is minimised through Radio Browsing. Moreover, ‘Radio Browsing’ in the form developed in collaboration with UNESCO in the early 2000s6 as a participatory radio programme, has taken into account the desires of rural communities to acquire knowledge collectively as opposed to the prevailing modality of individual access to the Internet. Building a community database – supporting community innovation and change With an internet connection at the community radio station, and a commitment to support development in the community at large, some community stations have built up community databases. These utilise the community’s collective capacity to 6 URL_ID=5590&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html
  57. 57. 57 produce knowledge and to package and disseminate it in an appropriate manner, which meets the immediate needs and priorities of the community. Facilitating contact and synergy between community development needs and existing businesses or other productive activity in the community is a way to match the community radio station’s convening power with its community development mandate. When such a community database is in place, the content, the encouragement to become more entrepreneurial, innovative and so on, could also be furthered through the radio browsing programmes. This educates the community about the importance of online information and lets them know that it remains available for them to consult at the station. By developing a community database, the station ensures that the whole community can access a pool of easily-acquired knowledge in a language which is understandable. The radio as the message centre Community radio is used everywhere as an important ‘community megaphone’, replacing the community caller, talking drums or other traditional communication forms. Its messages reach the whole community instantly. Furthermore community radio stations are used as ‘message centres’ in a number of creative and innovative ways. In some places the community radio station is simply ‘our connection point’ where messages are physically left and later picked up by the intended receiver. In other cases, the station’s e-mail and internet system is used to send and receive messages from far away. This latter type of ‘message centre’ or ‘community message service’ is used by businesses and individuals without their own access to the internet. Also during natural disasters or other emergencies community radio stations are used as service providers, sometimes in collaboration with social media, as the below story from Brazil tells: Radio and social media help inform Brazil during deadly floods7 The community station Friburgo FM is helping the citizens of Nova Friburgo find people missing in the Rio de Janeiro floods that have killed more than 7 Posted by Maira Magro in an internet debate on community and social media January 17, 2011